Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dubai World Cup 2013 selections

The first major event of the racing calendar takes place in Meydan on Saturday on Dubai World Cup day. While it might not be the congregation of the best horses in the world, the prize money on offer and the plurality of origins of the contestants, make this an unmissable and a truly world contest. This is why also, in my opinion, it is a truer world championship than what the Breeders Cup pretends to be. Anyway, here are some thoughts on some of the races on the night.

Godolphin Mile
It's hard to see past unbeaten Soft Falling Rain, who diverted from the UAE Derby because of obvious stamina limitations. This son of National Assembly will be the first 3 year-old to run in the contest and will aim to be the first one to win it as well. He is a course and distance winner already, although the opposition will be the fiercest he'd faced to date. I believe he should in be in first 2 and is worthy of the extra risk of having him as a Win. His main opponents look to be Zazoum Surfer and Moonwalk in Paris.

Dubai Gold Cup
I like Tenenbaum as a Place here. He was the best finisher in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy behind a few of these, the trial to this race. That race was his seasonal debut; he missed the break and was not suited by the slow pace. He came out a fast closing fourth. He should be in much better disposition on Saturday and I see him as a major player. Al Zarooni always seems to prop one on the big occasions and I believe Tenenbaum will be his main chance of a breakthrough. The opposition will come from Star Empire, Imperial Monarch and Ahzeemah.

UAE Derby
Unbeaten Secret Number seems to hold all the aces here and my only worry is that he's only raced two times in his career. For all I know, his half-brother to high-class Dubai Destination and Librettist could be an upcoming superstar after easily winning his 2 races. Yet, his lack of seasoning for such a competitive race is definitely a concern. On ratings, he's already higher than the rest of the field and given his expected improvement from his last run, he must have a good chance. I will have him as each-way. Shuruq, Elleval and Lines of Battle should provide the main opposition.

Al Quoz Sprint
If Shea Shea does a repeat of his last performance, he should win this one. He should certainly be in the first 3. The dark horse of the race comes from Singapore in Mr Big. This is my idea of the perfect horse to punt since he's never been out of the placings in 19 starts. It might be worth taking the extra risk and have a Place punt on him if you're willing to accept his form from Singapore.

Golden Shaheen
If Tenenbaum is Al Zarooni's best chance of the night, then fellow Australian Mental is a close second one. He won impressively on his last run on the Tapeta and looks to be a class act. The American horses Trinniberg and Private Zone are the dark horses of the race; we know they are speedy but the question is how they will handle the Tapeta. Trinniberg is the better horse of the two but only has form on dirt. Private Zone has run 3 times on the Hollywood Park and Del Mar synthetic tracks before although he only has a second-place to show for. I will stick with Mental as a rather safe Place here.

Dubai Duty Free
Without question, Igugu has to be considered the biggest flop ever to land in Meydan, so far. I would love her to put the record straight finally in the Duty Free but it will be a tough sell; this field is deep and good and if she's still far from the top of her game, she will have no chance, even with her large allegiance of supporters. Connections seem to favour The Apache, who's been rather impressive in his 2 previous outings, winning the first one, and coming out a good second last time out. This is a race I will happily lay 2 horses that are among the leading fancies in the market; Ocean Park and Trade Storm.They are way over-priced. I think Australia/NZ have the best turf sprinters in the world. Except for a few stars like So You Think, Elvestroem and Makybe Diva, I question heavily the form of their other milers or middle-distance runners of late. I might be wrong but I feel that Ocean Park will feel the heat against the best opposition he's ever faced. Same for Trade Storm. I admire the way he's trounced his rivals in his 2 impressive wins at Meydan but I feel Saturday is an entirely different proposition. He might be close to the finish but I don't believe he will win. Laying these 2 horses is my selection for this race.

Dubai Scheema Classic
Gentildonna could just be the best Deep Impact out there and her form in beating Orfevre in the Japan Cup must make her a leading contender here. She seems to have acclimatized very well to Meydan and it would not be of any surprise if she beats this good field. Await the Dawn and St Nicholas Abbey should provide the main opposition. I will go with the Japanese superstar for the win and Await the Dawn looks good value at current odds for a Place.

Dubai World Cup
This is a wide open race and the winner looks to be coming from either Godolphin, the American contingent or Treasure Beach from the Mike de Kock stable. Hunter's Light and Kassiano should be the major players from boys in blue. I believe Animal Kingdom is the main US hope. The Kentucky Derby winner had seemed out of the place the start of the week in his new surroundings, but indications are that he's since been working good. Treasure Beach has looked promising on the surface, closing fastest in his seasonal reappearance in the Al Maktoum Challenge 3, the trial to this race. Given his room for improvement, he could be a major player and do a Lizard's Desire for the de Kock team. At current odds, I will go with an each-way couple here with Treasure Beach and Kassiano. If any of the two end up in the first 3, it will a handsome payoff. I actually think Kassiano could win this thing.

I am not keen on Royal Delta or Dullahan although I am sure many pundits have them at the forefront of their selections. I think Royal Delta can dominate the distaff division all she wants, but going against seasoned colts is an entirely different matter. I don't think Dullahan is good enough or even has a liking the surface, based on his last run a few weeks back. So, I will be laying both.

Win: Soft Falling Rain, Secret Number, Gentildonna
Place: Tenenbaum, Shea Shea, Mental, Mr Big, Await the Dawn
Each-way: Kassiano/Treasure Beach
Lay: Ocean Park, Trade Storm, Royal Delta, Dullahan

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